Greek recipe · pies · sweet


Although this word might tell you next to nothing (for a Russian it would sound close to ‘pougatsa’ meaning ‘be afraid’), by saying ‘It sounds all Greek to me’ you can already guess it comes from Greece! Bougatsa (Μπουγάτσα) is actually a well-known Greek sweet pie that you can see almost all over Greece, but originally it comes from Serres in Macedonia (Greek Macedonia, of course), so in the region of Thessaloniki, where I spent a year studying… free Greek meals and sports (+sea, sun & people), chiefly =)

Bougatsa is what you eat when you want a scrumptious breakfast (after just a piece of a regular, non-Lenten pie you will be 100% full), with lots and lots of sugar and cinnamon on top. Greeks, actually, have thousands of pastry varieties, my favourite being of course the famous tyropita And bougatsa alone has a lot of varieties, be it in the relation to the region it comes from or according to the filling type (there are savoury varieties with feta, even, but I have tried only the classic sweet (VERY) version).

This post is in honour of my friends that I found in Greece. Although they were almost entirely not Greek at all, I thank this wonderful country for being the place where people become relaxed and meet other very relaxed friends! =) For me Greece is all about being relaxed: the famous national concepts ‘halara’ = don’t worry, stay cool, etc. and ‘den peirazei‘ = (I) don’t mind, it’s ok, etc. speak for themselves! I really miss Greece, its people, its atmosphere and its sense of living somewhere or better someWHEN where there seems to be no time…

Ok, now to the recipe which I just recently found on one of my favourite sources for Greek recipes:

Lenten Bougatsa me Krema (=with cream, in Greek Νηστίσιμη Μπουγάτσα) adapted from (the original recipe is here) will make two sweet pies which will transport you back to Thessaloniki… but be prepared for a lot of ‘fun’ with the dough=)


For the phyllo pastry

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp. vinegar – I used apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups room temp. water

{you’re asking what’s this? Phyllo pastry! you’re supposed to be able to read through the rolled-out dough…}

For the custard filling

  • 4 cups unsweetened soy milk- I used just regular 2.5% milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar- I would add more next time
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup fine semolina
  • 2 Tbs vanilla extract
  • icing sugar and ground cinnamon

{here’s a shot of the custard ready to be used in the pies}

Method (copy-paste from the original recipe, taken from

The custard should be made first and it must be cooled to at least room temperature (ideally slightly chilled). Into a pot add your soy milk (for me it worked out fine with regular milk) and sugar and stir over medium heat until just scalded. In the meantime, add the semolina and corn starch in a bowl and stir. Once the milk is scalding, add the semolina/corn starch into the pot and continue to stir until the mixture has thickened. Add the vanilla extract, stir in and remove from the heat. Pour into a bowl to cool faster and place plastic wrap on top of the custard so it doesn’t form a crust. Allow to cool completely or place in the fridge (which I did).

To make the dough, add the flour and salt in a bowl and mix with a fork or place in a food processor and pulse. Add your water, vinegar and oil into another bowl (or a large measuring cup) and pour into the running food processor or bowl. Add more flour if too wet or until the dough no longer sticks to walls of the food processor or add flour and knead on your work surface (I did it all by hand). The dough should be smooth, soft and not tacky.

Now divide into four equal pieces and roll into balls. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface, place the balls on top and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 1 hour. After an hour, roll each ball into about the diameter of a pita bread with a rolling pin then place on a baking tray brushed with oil. Brush the flat of dough with oil and place the second one on top. You should have two sets of two-stacks. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for another hour.

To open your phyllo, you will need a long rectangular table or large work surface (ensure either is clean).

{my table was apparently not enough for this piece=) }

Drizzle the work surface with oil and place one stack on the work area, use a rolling pin to seal the perimeter (two flats become one) of the dough and then hold on to the edge of the phyllo and begin gently pulling out the dough outwards, trying your best to open the dough in a large rectangle. Your challenge is to open/stretch phyllo that is 1.5 X 2 meters (I never achieved that). Trim off any of the thick edges (No, I didn’t=).

Drizzle oil all over the surface of the phyllo and carefully fold over the phyllo to make it half the size then use a knife to cut it into two equal pieces. Drizzle the surface with oil again and place half of the custard filling diagonally in the middle of one half of the dough. Now pull up each corner of dough towards the centre (like an envelope) to seal the filling (This was really tricky!).

Now carefully lift the packet and place the fold-side downward onto the remaining phyllo square (This I didn’t get, as a matter of fact, so my pie got really thick borders). Place on a greased baking sheet and brush the top with oil. Repeat with the remaining two-stack of dough and form your second bougatsa (I had to put the second one in the fridge while the first was baking). Brush the top with oil and place in a pre-heated 175 ‘C oven for 45-60 minutes (middle rack) or until golden (mine needed about 45 min). Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 20 minutes before serving.

Cut up into bite-sized squares and dust with lots of icing sugar and some ground cinnamon (I had to add more and more sugar as it got melted each time I put the pies in the cupboard where we’re forced to store all our edibles not requiring fridge now).

Although I didn’t manage to make the phyllo as a real bougatsa would have it, but, really, I never thought that you COULD make it at home at all! A real bougatsa would have less dough, be thinner and of course the dough will be as if in sheets. I did cope to have some layers but in other parts the dough was too thick and more like a solid block and not a stack of layers. I would also advise you to start with a half of the recipe as this one will make a lot, and if you don’t have enough experience with phyllo, perhaps it would be more sensible to begin with just one pie.

Good luck with your bougatsa, anyway!

More recipes to come soon (I’m using my unemployment period at 100%=), as well as much promised account about the 90s in the USSR (tssss!).



4 thoughts on “BOUGATSA!!!

  1. Georgia, thank you for trying out this Lenten Bougatsa recipe and you did very well. In the future though, if you are so enthusiastic about sharing someone’s recipe, perhaps you should give them more credit that just “adapted from here”.

  2. Georgia, I am delighted when someone tries out one of my recipes but it is also not polite to “copy/paste” a recipe and then to only give credit in the manner you have “adapted from here”.

    Don’t you think if the recipe is worthy of sharing then one should give proper credit to the source? Perhaps I should change my blog name to “here”…..

    1. Hello, Peter, I really want to apologize for my inaccurate use of your recipe, it’s the first time I’m addressed by the author of the recipe. I guess, I’m not that savvy in how to quote correctly the online sources. I have included the name of your site now, I hope that this will do? Or would you rather I just gave a link to your site without giving the recipe? Perhaps, I will from now on ask for the permission first, which has never entered my mind, I’m sorry (although I did write it was copy-paste from the original source each time I used someone’s recipe, I understand that this is not appropriate…). Thank you for you remark, I will try to improve my online correctness!
      And thank you for your recipes!

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